MIAMI BEACH - Back in 2002 the expansion Texans took Fresno State quarterback David Carr with the first pick in the draft and it didn't go very well.
But Carr, an NFL Network analyst, thinks it can go a lot better for LSU quarterback Joe Burrow and the Bengals if they take him first because they'll also have a couple of guys named A.J. Green and Joe Mixon and he said so during the network's media availability Thursday in the run-up to Sunday's Super Bowl.
"Talk to guys around the league and Joe Mixon is the guy they really worry about," Carr said of the two-time 1,000-yard running back. "A.J. is a coverage dictator. He takes the double team and you run the ball in there with (fewer) bodies. You could make a big turnaround quick."
Maybe because Carr is just a young thing of 40, he's not quite so grumpy as his older NFL Network colleagues when it comes to playing Burrow right away. Deion Sanders says it's too much to ask of Burrow, admitting he's old school and would like some experience behind a transitioning offensive line. Kurt Warner, who quarterbacked an MVP in this game 20 years ago, says he's not sure if Joe is the Burrow of last season or two years ago.
But Warner, who 20 years ago averaged nearly 10 yards per throw while completing 68 percent of his passes for the Super Bowl champion Rams, also admitted that maybe nobody ever had a better year throwing the ball better than Burrow.
"I don't see special arm talent. I don't see Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson-type athletic ability," Carr said. "He's incredibly accurate; he has command of his offense. Like almost freakishly accurate down the field. He just never missed. If he can keep at that level, he'll be a rea problem."
Carr, who had just 79 starts in 11 seasons before finishing as Eli Manning's backup in New York, goes even a little bit beyond that. He looks at the NFC champion 49ers quarterbacked by Jimmy Garoppolo and doesn't doubt that Burrow can get to the big game if the Bengals keep helping him. He thinks head coach Zac Taylor has some major pieces in place to pull it off and can see the Bengals making the system rookie quarterback friendly.
"The system they have fits perfectly with what (Burrow) does," Carr said. "I have often said this about the Bengals … I would turn myself into a team … look who your running back is. He's incredibly talented. Run the ball, play-action action off of that. It's funny. Zac has that in his DNA. Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan. Just go watch 49er tape and build your offense around that. I would say Joe has as much talent as Jimmy. I would even say might even have more. He could get to this game, absolutely, but you have to build things around him in that structure. It might already be there. I wouldn't be mad if the Bengals ran it 30, 40 times a game. I think that would be the way they go."
Let's see. Burrow was five years old and the family had yet to make it to Ohio when Carr went No. 1. And there are some huge differences. Carr went to a veteran defensive head coach on his second top job in Dom Capers and he had a 30-year coaching veteran in Chris Palmer calling plays for an expansion team. Burrow is said to be ticketed to a Bengals team with a young offensive head coach and play-caller that has three 1,000-yard performers.
But Carr's the-quarterback-is-king advice to Burrow has stood the test of time.
"Take ownership of the team," Carr said. "I didn't do this. I played nice … When you're young you're not as assertive because there are so many older guys around …. I didn't speak up as much as I should have. Do what you're comfortable with."
Carr says he didn't speak up until his third season and Capers basically asked, "Why didn't you say this two years ago?" He says Burrow will be shocked at how positively the coaches are going respond if he points out something. He says you have to be so comfortable that you go to someone in the video department that knows how you like to watch film.
"The (coaches) know if you're successful, everybody is going to be successful," Carr said. "The team is only going to go as far as you …There's no one else that is going to make those decisions for you. You have to decide what this team is going to be."